Fans expecting a close duel between the kings of men’s cyclocross, as we saw on Saturday at Flandriencross in Hamme, were treated to a first lap that quickly brought the cream to the top.
Then suddenly, they were deflated when Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) faced terrible misfortune by getting a flat tire early on into the event.
— Alpecin-Fenix Cycling Team (@AlpecinFenix) January 24, 2021
While he rolled on his rim to the pits, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was already nearly 30 seconds ahead of him by the time he got a fresh bike and tubular. Was the gap too large for even Van der Poel to recover? He did his best, closing to within 10 seconds, but then the lead stretched out past 20 seconds. Was he throwing in the towel, and saving his matches for Ostend Worlds?
While Van Aert rode nearly flawlessly up front, Van der Poel had one more surge left. He sprinted out of corners, bombed the downhills and sprinted up the cobbles. Suddenly, he was within 10 seconds and sight of Van Aert. Could we be in for a Tour of Flanders-style sprint?
Then, Van der Poel suffered a slip of the rear tire in an uphill, and struggled to gain back momentum while overgeared. That stretched the lead back to 13 seconds.
Van der Poel then slipped in another corner, and the gap was 20 seconds. And the elastic finally snapped. Another crash sealed the deal, and Van Aert was off to win the World Cup overall and hand Van der Poel another flat tire-cursed defeat.
Van der Poel finished in second, almost a minute after the Belgian champion.
Stand up with your hands up if you just won the #CXWorldCup! 🏆
— UCI Cyclocross (@UCI_CX) January 24, 2021
“I’m very pleased with my third overall victory,” Van Aert said after the finish. “It’s also great to go with this mental victory into Worlds next week.”
Van der Poel was philosophical at the finish. “I think the flat tire was already too much,” said the World Champ at the finish. “Then I made a crucial mistake and then it was too hard to come back. But I think I can be satisfied with my race.”
The battle for third was a good one, with Tom Pidcock (Trinity Racing) and Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwel Sauzen – Bingoal) locked for most of the race for the final podium spot, but Pidcock eventually dropped the Belgian to make a three-nationality podium.
American Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) finished 22nd.
Full results below. See the results and report from the women’s 2021 Overijse Cyclocross World Cup here.
2021 World Cup Overijse Results: Elite Men
|1||16||VAN AERT Wout||BEL||27||1:05:57|
|2||1||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||NED||26||1:07:00|
|6||2||VAN DER HAAR Lars||NED||30||1:09:23|
|8||3||VAN KESSEL Corne||NED||30||1:09:38|
|19||57||ORTS LLORET Felipe||ESP||26||1:11:20|
|23||12||VAN DIJKE Tim||NED||21||1:12:48|
|34||9||VAN DER HEIJDEN Maik||NED||24|
|38||58||SUAREZ FERNANDEZ Kevin||ESP||27|
|40||60||CULLELL ESTAPE Jofre||ESP||22|
|42||6||VAN DER POEL David||NED||29|
|48||10||VAN DER MEER Gosse||NED||26|
|53||39||VAN KEMPEN Jules||USA||19|